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Steelers News: Only Ben Roethlisberger can silence his critics after Week 5

Moving forward, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise quarterback can only silence the critics with his play.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Even a player who completely shelters himself from the noise following an NFL Sunday would still hear some comments trickling through. For Ben Roethlisberger, coming off a 5-interception game and essentially losing the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he’s already heard plenty of it.

Forget about the local media. Roethlisberger knows only too well what that sound is going to resemble, but the national media also has started to pile on. Former teammate Ryan Clark chimed in on the situation, along with LaDainian Tomlinson and Deion Sanders. Not all were negative, but each had his opinions on Roethlisberger and where he stands at this stage of his career.

There will always be critics. For example, look at Terry Bradshaw and Roethlisberger’s rocky relationship. But the only way for Roethlisberger to silence those critics is to go out and play like the quarterback fans have known the past 14 seasons.

It’s similar to playing a team that loves to run their mouths. The sport doesn’t matter but there’s only one way to shut them up—by beating them. Thus, the gauntlet has been prepared for Roethlisberger, as the Steelers head into their biggest game of the 2017 regular season — a Week-6 matchup against the Chiefs at Arrowhead.

Time to check up on the latest and greatest news outside the walls of BTSC:

Ben Roethlisberger wasn't being serious on Sunday afternoon when he said he “maybe doesn't have it anymore” after he threw five interceptions in a 30-9 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But two Pro Football Hall of Famers didn't find anything amusing about the 35-year-old quarterback's comments.

Deion Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson took the Steelers quarterback to task on Sunday night, speaking on the NFL Network's “NFL GameDay Prime” telecast.

“You can't have your leader, your star, your quarterback, your most handsomely paid player on your team acting like this and talking like this,” Sanders said. “It's detrimental to the success of the team.”

Tomlinson agreed.

“Right now, I think he's in a state of frustration, but I'm concerned because it seems to me that maybe he's given up a little bit,” Tomlinson said. “Maybe he's coming to grips that it's over for him. For him to respond like that, that's more than frustration to me. When you start to say things like that, then you're questioning if you really can get it done anymore.”

Sanders faulted Roethlisberger for publicly criticizing wide receiver Antonio Brown last week for his Gatorade cooler flip against the Baltimore Ravens.

“You call him out, and you come back and throw five (interceptions?),” Sanders said. “You're playing the lottery pick-5? There is a problem with that and there is a problem that rests in that locker room. Now the cat is out of the bag and people are going to really start challenging him and questioning him.”

“The teammates are already doing that.”

Sanders said the problem stems from Roethlisberger openly contemplating retirement in January, two days after the Steelers' loss in the AFC championship game to New England. This season, Roethlisberger's 75.8 passer rating ranks No. 28, and he’s averaging career lows in yards per attempt (6.5) and yards per completion (10.6).

“This has been happening all season,” Sanders said.

Looking at Tomlinson, Sanders said, “You know if your quarterback ever said something like that in the off-season (you would think), ‘What are you talking about?' ”

Tomlinson gave Sanders a sideways glance and said, “I'd be looking at him like this.”

“Heartbroken” after his brother's latest serious injury, T.J. Watt can appreciate being back to full health even more.

The Steelers' rookie outside linebacker watched in misery Sunday night as his brother, J.J., suffered a tibial plateau fracture of his left leg during the first quarter of the Houston Texans' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Less than 16 hours later, T.J. Watt said he had talked to his older brother “a bunch.” Three-time NFL defensive player of the year J.J., who missed all but three games last season because of injury, was in obvious agony after the play, and early Tuesday morning he tweeted he was “devastated.” He reportedly had surgery Monday and is out for the season.

“It just (stinks),” T.J. Watt said. “It just (stinks) to see a guy who worked his (butt) off to get back after multiple surgeries to have the game of football just … ”

Watt paused.

“I don't want to say it's ‘unfair' — but I don't think he deserves it at all. It just (stinks).”

J.J. Watt spearheaded a fundraising effort that collected more than $37 million in relief funds for Hurricane Harvey victims. He's also one of the NFL's more marketable and best-known players.

The Steelers' Watt — six years younger — has quite a ways to go to catch his brother, but he was off to a better statistical start this season. T.J. has three sacks, three pass defenses and an interception in four games for the Steelers. J.J. finished with no sacks or interceptions and two passes defended.

T.J. also dealt with injury, though not nearly as severe. He left the Week-2 game against Minnesota because of a groin injury that caused him to miss the following game at Chicago. He’s had a heavy snap workload the past two games.

“I'm getting better by the week,” Watt said. “Definitely, the first week back against the Ravens (Oct. 1), I had some rust I had to knock off. But I thought this past week I felt even better, just felt as if I was continually getting better and growing.”

Watt had a sack among his six tackles (five solo) in Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville.

Then again, he also was part of a defense that allowed 231 rushing yards — the most allowed by the Steelers in 17 years.

“I take pride in the run play more than I do the pass, Just because, if you can't stop the run, you can't even have opportunities to get to the pass,” Watt said. “I think you've just got to pride yourself on being a stout run defender that people don't want to run towards.”

Coty Sensabaugh joined Ben Roethlisberger (offense) and Cameron Heyward (defense) for the opening coin toss as special teams captain Sunday. The prior two games, Tyler Matakevich was special teams captain.

Coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers are rotating the special teams captain this season, based on merit.

“I found out during the week,” Sensabaugh said. “It was a blessing — but it's all about wins and losses, so it's kind of whatever, whatever, because of the loss.”

Serving as the No. 5 cornerback, Sensabaugh hasn't had much of a role on defense this season since signing as a free agent in March. But his special-teams role has been increasing.